The Top 10 Stories of August 7, 2013

By Jessica Turner 8-07-2013

"Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Human-induced climate change requires urgent action." A headline in a newly released two-page statement by the American Geophysical Union, which represents some 60,000 scientists who study the Earth.

1. Violent and chaotic, Central African Republic lurches toward a crisis.

The rebels, known as Seleka, or “alliance” in the Sango language, make the law in the Central African Republic, where coups and violent seizures of power have outnumbered fair elections four to one since independence.  Now, even their handpicked prime minister calls the country’s condition “catastrophic.” The rebels have held unchecked sway since they swarmed into this bedraggled capital in March, looting, abducting, raping, and killing — even breaking into an orphanage to steal whatever they could, according to Amnesty International.
(New York Times)

2. Syrian army kills scores of rebels in ambush.
The Syrian Army ambushed a large group of antigovernment insurgents near the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday, killing more than 60 of them in what seemed a significant assault on rebels seeking to penetrate the capital, according to monitors and state media.
(New York Times)

3. Obama administration authorized recent drone strikes in Yemen.
The Obama administration authorized a series of drone strikes in Yemen over the past 10 days as part of an effort to disrupt an al-Qaeda terrorism plot that has forced the closure of American embassies around the world, U.S. officials said.
(Washington Post)

4. Poor children show a decline in obesity rate.
The obesity rate among preschool-age children from poor families fell in 19 states and United States territories between 2008 and 2011, federal health officials said Tuesday — the first time a major government report has shown a consistent pattern of decline for low-income children after decades of rising rates.
(New York Times)

5. Mexican nationals, the 'Dream 9,' take a step toward asylum.
Young immigrants known as the “Dream 9” will get the chance to argue their case for asylum before an immigration judge, potentially setting a precedent that would inspire other Mexican nationals to make similar claims for asylum in the U.S., immigration experts said Tuesday.
(Los Angeles Times)

6. Obama cancels upcoming meeting with Putin.
President Obama will cancel a planned meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid mounting anger over Russia’s decision to allow National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden into the country, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.
(Washington Post)

7. Schumer sees path to passage of immigration bill.
One of the key Senate players in the push to overhaul America's immigration system is voicing fresh confidence that an accommodation can be reached with the House. Sen. Chuck Schumer says it's okay with him if the House sticks with its piecemeal approach, as long as it can be reconciled with the version the Senate has passed.
(Associated Press)

8. First charges filed in Benghazi attack.
The Justice Department has filed the first criminal charges in the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, two U.S. officials said Tuesday. The officials confirmed that a sealed complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington against an unspecified number of individuals in the September 2012 attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. One official said those charged included Ahmed Abu Khattala, the head of a Libyan militia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a sealed filing.
(Associated Press)

9. With Holder in the lead, sentencing reform gains momentum.
This is the nation's top law enforcement officer calling for a sea change in the criminal justice system. And he's not alone. Over the past few weeks, lawmakers have introduced bipartisan measures that would give judges more power to shorten prison sentences for nonviolent criminals and even get rid of some mandatory minimum terms altogether.

10. Earth scientists pin climate change squarely on 'humanity.'
Most of the scientists who study the Earth say our climate is changing and humans are part of what's making that happen. But to a lot of nonscientists it's still murky. This week, two of the nation's most venerable scientific institutions tried to explain it better.

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